THE STORY I’m about to share wouldn’t have happened but for my personal pride as a DIYer and my innate desire to save a buck. My mom is the reason I possess these wonderful instincts that often send me swirling into a spackle-covered downward spiral of cussing and unfinished projects. Thanks Mom! You’ve raised me right.
My mom and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment until I was about 9 years old. We had a lovely landlord, Hoss, who would take care of our creaks, drips, cracks and rattles. When Hoss came over to fix something he would enter through the side door to our tiny kitchen, and he’d always turn a blind eye to our vagabond house cats as they squeezed their way into the house before the heavy metal screen door caught them by the tails. My mom still hid the kitty food bowls when she knew he was coming over. Maintaining a semblance of obedience will take your far.
When my mom bought our house just before I started fifth grade the cats came with us, but Hoss did not. So what’s a cash-strapped first time home buyer to do when she’s lost her built-in handyman? Do it herself, of course. And so for years and years I watched my mom repair dripping toilets, mow our lawn, caulk the bathtub, paint the kitchen, and sew curtains for my bedroom, all while bringing home the bacon and making sure I still got to go to Disneyland. Wow, don’t I feel like an ass for whining about staying at home to care for my child while my husband goes to work. Again, thanks Mom!
Anyway, growing up watching my mom do pretty much everything herself ingrained me with a lively can-do spirit. What I’ve discovered through the course of many home projects gone awry, however, is that a can-do spirit don’t mean jack if you have no skills or actual tools in your toolbox. So sometimes that lively can-do spirit of mine goes a little something like: “Mom, you can do this for me, right?” Ha. Just kidding. Well, not really.
Because I did ask my mom to make me these lovely curtains for my son’s playroom.
What, you aren’t noticing the curtains? I should have cleaned up for you. Sorry. Let me see if I can get a better shot for you.
Ah, just kidding. Not happening today. Remember, I’m not my mom. Can’t do everything.
Try to look passed the caterpillar tunnel, McDonald’s Happy Meal Furbies circa 1998, recycled plastic dump truck, drunken Minion and so on. Right there, next to the window. See them?
Okay, now that we are all on the same page, take a look at these beauties! Last week my mom came to stay with me and on my to-do list was to hang these curtains she sewed for me using this Richloom Solar Outdoor fabric I purchased from Fabric.com. Using my own calculations I imagined my mom could make me six stunning 90″ panels out of eight yards of this fabric. At under $9/yard, that’s a steal at just under $80 for six panels.
The key is that I imagined this. Because in reality what I got was those full, lush palm curtains you see above and these two slim fellows you see below.
womp, womp. My measurements were way off. You see, this is upholstery grade fabric so it’s sold on a 54″ wide bolt. Being the clever, frugal gal that I am, I figured my mom could splice those eight leafy yards right down the center leaving me with six 26″ x 90″ curtain panels.
So she did, and what I ended up with was six, sickly thin panels as you see displayed above. The photo is a bit deceiving because the panels really don’t look all that bad there, but if you look at this side by side comparison maybe you can get a better feel for what I’m saying.
On the left you are seeing two stick-thin panels and on the right you are actually seeing the remaining four panels (two bunched together on either side). Basically, I ordered about half as much fabric as I needed to make these curtains look right. It was a downright mistake on my part. I thought the panels would look okay at just 26″ wide considering the curtains in my living room are about that width. The problem I ran into is this fabric is just way too thin to hang properly at that width. While I really do like to stretch a buck, it’s clear that the full width panels are much better looking. So back I went to Fabric.com to order eight more yards of fabric so my mom can sew me three full-width panels to finish off the room.
So sad. What’s even worse is that I went to Fabric.com just now to pull the link for this post and the damn website gave me a pop-up offer for 20% off my purchase with email sign up. Where were you last week when I ordered those eight extra yards, huh, coupon!?!?
Even with my original snafu, I spent just under $160 for what will be six total curtain panels for this room. That’s $27 per panel. As far as custom curtains go, that’s not a bad price at all. Your typical curtain panel from West Elm or even Target will cost you more than that, especially if you are getting something longer than the 80″ length curtains that are available in-stock at the store.
And just one more thing before I go. You might not have noticed this, but the fun didn’t stop there with this project. No, siree. I mentioned that my mom was here for the week so I wanted to get these curtains knocked off my to-do list while she was here to help with my boy.
A simple task, or so it would seem. Because before I even got to the point where I noticed how sickly thin the curtains were going to look unless we doubled them up, I put a half dozen or so holes in my walls trying to mount the brackets.
I’ve hung a million curtain rods in my life. Well, that’s an exaggeration. I’ve hung at least 10 curtain rods in my life and I NEVER would have imagined what an absolute disaster it would be for me to hang these. I will spare you the long, nightmarish tale and just tell you that, similar to 50 Shades of Grey, the highlights include hammering, screwing/unscrewing, sweating, cursing, spackling and a little crying. After all of that I packed up my can-do spirit, my bruised DIYer’s pride and paid my carpenter $20 to hang the rods for me. I think my mom would be proud, because even she would admit that the only thing worse than spending extra money to pay somebody to do something you should have been able to do yourself would be to let the project sit there unfinished. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m done trying to be a hero. I will ask for help when it will make my life easier.
Next time keep your eyes peeled for a full set of curtains in each window. I’ll also clean up before showing you around. I promise. Happy weekend!